I have researched my family history for many years now but recently decided to check out one particular line as I had some DNA matches and some possible cousins.Looking at one particular census entry for 1851 I found two young children, a boy aged 8 and a girl aged 7 both working in the brickyards. They and their parents and two or three other siblings lived in a small house with two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs. There would probably only be a cold water tap and the toilet would be outside in the yard .I have always appreciated my ancestors and how they lived their lives, working hard and having little to live on. It makes me realise just how much we take for granted today.
It is the time of the year when we honour our ancestors and I honour all of mine including those who died young through hardship and those who lived long lives. They all are a part of me and gave me some attributes too.
But today we take so much for granted. We have food and clothes and many have cars, fancy phones and gadgets and holidays abroad. But what is the cost of all these things? I don’t mean in money but in how our environment is affected. It is well known that cars pollute the atmosphere as do many other things. The metals used in mobile phones are often rare and there is a limited supply within the earth. But we have become complacent and don’t seem to realise the effect on the planet that all this has. We are in the middle of a climate crisis but many seem to think that as it won’t happen in their lifetime it doesn’t matter. But what about the children and grandchildren and those yet to be born? What sort of world will they have?
I keep saying the same things over and over again. When will people learn that we can’t go on as we are, that we must change the way we work, think and live? We need to look at how we eat and what we eat. Do we really need food imported from across the world? Do we need new clothes every month? Do you really need a new phone or car? My ancestors survived on very little money and often only a little food but some of them lived to a very old age. There was no pension or health service and no pay when off sick but they survived and lived well.
On a final note, I still use Windows 7 on my computer. It still works so why change it? This applies to other things too. If it works, keep it and get it repaired when it goes wrong. Only buy new when it cannot be repaired. This applies to so many other things in our lives too. So think about the way you live, think how your ancestors managed without most of the things you have today. They survived and so can you.
(photo of my grandparents both born in 1890)
Another interesting week. It brought to mind how much we need others to remind us that we are valued and have a lot to offer. When you get older it is easy to feel that you are becoming a burden because you need help yet you still may have much to offer others. This was brought home to me this week two days running.
We all have something we can do for others, it may be just listening, it may be that we give someone a hug. We can offer help to do shopping, cleaning, writing letters or taking someone out for the afternoon to have tea somewhere.
So often we look at someone young or old and push them aside thinking they have nothing we are interested in. Every one of us has something we can do for others, you just have to look for that something. I remember teaching what were known as problem children. Each one of these had an interest in something, could draw or paint, could play a game better than others. When I found that something I had a way to reach these children and help them. It is the same with older people. Just because they are in a home or disabled does not mean they have nothing to offer you. There is a great joy in listening to the experiences of older people. It helps us to see what they went through when life was not so easy. I could go on but I think I have written enough to make you think a bit.
How do you help others feel valued?
It is getting near to the Christmas festival. Last week I wrote about Black Friday. This week I am following on with the same kind of theme. I hate seeing small children screaming and shouting, stamping their feet and generally having tantrums just because they cannot have what they want. But there are so many of them doing this that I wonder what their parents think and do.
Maybe I am getting old and grumpy but I was brought up during and after the war and many items were rationed. For Christmas I had a stocking which contained an orange, an apple, and some nuts perhaps. Chocolate was rationed but when that was no longer so, I got a selection pack. I was also given a game to play with others or a jigsaw and one main present. There were a few presents from relations but that was all and I was happy.
Why is it that we all want so much? Why do you need a 50 inch screen TV? Why do you want the latest gadget? We are back to needing and wanting and the difference between them. Yesterday a friend told me about the way her children took some old electrical gadgets they no longer needed and exchanged them for something they preferred now. But the new gadget was not a really new one either but had been used before. Is advertising to blame? Do you believe what the adverts say?
I was shocked to see how people fought to get a few pounds off various goods especially televisions. What is the matter with us that we need to do such things. We seem to have forgotten the difference between I want and I need. If I think I should buy something new, I always think about do I need it or not. This applies to clothes as well. We seem to live in a throwaway world and to me that is not a good thing.
I have just had a new computer built by my son as my old one was really falling apart and not working at all well. But there is no way I would have gone to a Black Friday sale, queued and fought to get one. Same with many other things. If it can be mended then that is what I do. My son has taken my old computer as he can convert it to use with the TV. Recycling is good.
What are your thoughts on the scenes of chaos on Friday? Would you join such a crowd? Before you buy items do you think about needing or wanting?
During and after a Beltane meditation, the difference between needing and wanting came up. If you don’t have a lot of money then the question of do you need something or do you just want something can often cause quite a lot of argument between people.
In today’s world we all seem to want everything that is available for us to buy and many people get into debt because they feel they have to have what they want. As I’ve grown older and delved deeper into my spiritual side, I now find the decision of needing something much easier to deal with. But for many this kind of decision is much harder. Of course, the wanting or needing something can apply to jobs, holidays and other things such as relationships as well as the purchase of material goods.
There are other ways of looking at this kind of choice but you have to be honest with yourself. You can look at the ethical side of the holiday or goods that you buy. Do you really need whatever it is? Why do you need it? Is it a good buy or the kind of bargain that falls apart after a few weeks?
I was brought up with parents who believed that you bought nothing until you had saved enough money to buy it. The only exclusion to this was the mortgage on the house. There was always enough food despite the post-war rationing and my mother made my clothes as well as her own. My father grew vegetables in the garden and enjoyed walking in the local parks. We had no TV so there were no adverts to try to persuade us to buy things we did not need or even want. There is so much pressure today to buy things we don’t need, to take holidays abroad and to do things we don’t really want to do.
Does your respect for others and our natural world influence what you buy and how do you choose whether it is a need or a want? Does your spiritual path influence this as well?
I’d love to hear your ideas on this theme. This mornings photo is of the trees at the back of my garden just coming into leaf. They give me hope for the changes in the world that I would like to see.